Yet again we have seen the issue of parents taking their children out of school in term time appear in the press, this time in the case of Stewart and Natasha Sutherland who took their daughters out of school in September 2013 and were fined £630 for doing so .
Whilst I have sympathy for Stewart’s predicament in that his work means he is absent at the times his children are on holiday, I do not agree with their reasoning for taking their daughters on holiday. To quote the BBC News article :
He told magistrates he decided to take a family holiday because of problems with his eldest daughter, whose behaviour and school attendance had deteriorated.
Their oldest daughter is 15 years old, which means that in September 2013 she started her final year in high school where she will be sitting her GCSEs. A 15 year old girl whose behaviour and school attendance is poor should not be rewarded with a holiday in Rhodes; she should be in school.
To move this debate away from this case, I actually agree with being able to have term time holidays; providing there are stipulations in place. The possible stipulations that come to mind are:
- Maximum of five days holiday per child per school year;
- No unauthorised absences for at least 12 months;
- No exams (actual or mock) planned;
- All homework and/or coursework due to be issued that week are issued in advance and completed before returning to school; and
- No more than 10% of the same class on holiday at the same time so lesson planning isn’t badly affected.
A major part of the problem is the ridiculously inflated costs of going on holiday in the school holidays. As you can see here, going on holiday for one week on 14th July at Presthaven Sands is £209.90 cheaper than going the week after, as the summer holidays begin. If parents are to be expected to go on holiday in the school holidays then this needs to change to be more affordable.
I hope that the Sutherland’s case sparks a debate amongst schools, local authorities, travel agents, holiday parks, government and everyone affected by these rules as they stand now. We need a proper debate on this issue to find a solution that suits the needs of everyone. After all, we are all in it together aren’t we?